Motoyoshi town stretches 13km along the Rias coast of Tohoku. The town was originally created from 4 smaller villages, each of which retains its own distinct atmosphere. The ALTs living here are lucky to save themselves 30-40 minutes of driving whenever they want/need to go south, to Sendai or wherever. That said, I have found myself making the 30 minute drive north to the main part of Kesennuma almost everyday anyways, so I guess that works out. If you tell anyone from Kesennuma you're from Motoyoshi, they will say you live far away. Laugh at that statement, because they don't know what true distance is. Only when you tell someone in Sendai that you're from Kesennuma and they say "oh that's far" can you say "yeah, it IS far."
Ohya is a wonderful beach town, though the beach is somewhat blocked by construction. Fortunately there are several openings for people to go down and feel the sand and cold cold waves. As it currently stands, Ohya has an incredibly strong baseball, volleyball, and table tennis team.
Tsuya is the main town area of Motoyoshi. This is where you’ll find the main businesses and the ALTs. This is also where most of the highlights listed on this page are located. There is a gym here with a bare-basics weightroom. Students periodically hold practice here when the campus gets too crowded or when there are scheduling conflicts for space. The gym has its own events, like boxercise and a "youth bowling" (up to age 35) thing so keep your eye out for posters hung around. There is a nice library in the community center (the same building as the BOE). Many students hang around there since its a decent place to study and escape from severe weather. Kids also like to play on the playground just next to Hamanasu Hall.
Magome is a farming district where you can try your hand at milking cows and making butter. The main highlight here is Mooland (pronounced mo-rando in Japanese), an outdoor family farm fun center which also has the prefectures largest roller slide. There will be an elementary school here until April.
The fourth and smallest village is Koizumi – Koizumi is a cute little town with wonderful people. Routes 346 and 45 run through Motoyoshi and Kesennuma line train stops at Tsuya, Koizumi and Oya. There is an elementary school here; the junior high school has closed and the students have moved to Tsuya. There is a "beach" here too, but mainly for surfing. Which means you can participate if you'd like! Lessons and gear rental are available.
Super Katahamaya- THE grocery store of Motoyoshi. Also THE grocery store for areas close to Motoyoshi, like Minamisanriku (since it doesn't have a grocery store). You will be here a lot, and will see many of students as well. Conveniently has a flower shop, dry cleaning, and alcohol shop all in one.
Gempei- A ramen shop. Great Miso Ramen. Some manga on the shelf to give you something to read while you are waiting for your noodles to come. Also serves some good curry rice as well.
Endo Sushi- A sushi restaurant next to Katahamaya supermarket. They serve everything here, not just sushi. If you teach in the Motoyoshi area, some of your students' parents work here. The katsudon (fried pork & egg over rice) is amazing. My Japanese kyoto sensei said if it was in Tokyo, it would cost 2000 yen. Lucky for you, it's only 800 yen here. You will have an enkai here at some point.
Takasou- A great drinking spot in the 'downtown' of Tsuya. Used to be a meat shop and was converted into a izakaya/restaurant. They still serve primarily meat (tonkatsu, yakitori, yakiniku, etc), but they also have some good tofu dishes as well. The owner is a friendly guy who enjoys some new patrons. Be aware: if it's your first time, he will call his son and hand you the phone to test his son's English ability.
Isamiya-Home of the infamous Oshima Manju. This is regarded, amongst the locals, as the premier place to buy sweets. They have gone to several sweet conventions down in Tokyo so it has a small name for itself. Like many stores in Japan, their seasonal desserts are quite good. Try the matcha mochi, it’s delicious.
Not in Motoyoshi, but close enough:
Aimaki- This place is about 15 minutes southwest of Motoyoshi on route 346 in Iwate prefecture and is highly recommended. It looks like a log cabin on the side of the road. The owner has done some traveling around Asia and has received a cooking degree in Thailand. There is a little Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, etc. so if you're looking for really good non-Japanese Asian food (specifically South East) this is THE place to go. You can also rent out the place and host events. Some past events held: birthday parties, Christmas concerts, summer concerts. The owner speaks a little English and is always wanting to improve. He's quite amiable and if you frequent the restaurant he may throw in a free dessert or so. Saturday evenings are candle light nights, if you are looking for a romantic evening with that special someone ;)
Places to drink
There are a few places to get a drink around Motoyoshi, specifically Tsuya. Good way to talk to locals. You can't drive at all if you've drunken anything but thankfully Tsuya is so small you can just walk everywhere in like 5 minutes.
Takasou - already mentioned above in the restaurants section. Serves decent drinks at a decent price.
Hokkaido - named after the most northern region of Japan since the owner is from there. She's a sweet old lady, and is willing to talk to you if you: a) speak Japanese pretty well or b) approach her and talk to her, trying to convince her you actually speak some Japanese or have improved since the last time you've met (like everyone else). This is a NON-RACEY snack bar, so expect singers in a smokey room, the smell of sake and cheap perfume. If you don't know, snack bars make you buy the entire bottle of alcohol and saves the portion you don't drink, so be cautious when bartenders attempt to sell you a bottle of something or you pick something really nice looking. Hokkaido saves their patrons' drinks for 3 months, something I wish I knew earlier after showing up 4 months later.